This year, for Mother’s Day. We caught up with our good friend and great mother Nance Wernes who is one of the founding members of the Kansas City Storm, all women’s professional tackle football team and a longtime advocate for female representation in sports.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up and what inspired your passion for women’s athletics?
I grew up in Des Moines, Ia playing any sport I could. I would rather be outside playing than inside watching TV any day. So sports have always been a big part of my life. In high school I participated in 16 sports seasons (4 sports, 4 years) and earned 9 varsity letters. I continued in college with volleyball.
The inspiration came from the limited professional female athletes of the time. Golfers and tennis players, mostly. Nancy Lopez, Billie Jean King. It was before you saw a lot of team sports for women like you do today, basketball, softball, soccer.
I guess the passion came from the positive experiences. The coaches that truly cared, the teammates that became great friends, feeling the support of my family.
What kind of barriers did you face when you founded the Kansas City Storm? How were you able to overcome them?
One barrier was financial. Football is an expensive sport, as is evidenced by it being dropped by a lot of high schools and colleges. Sponsors tend to support children teams, but not adult teams. Couple that with football being a non-traditional sorry for women, support is difficult to secure. We combat it with taking matters into our own hands through fundraising and making wise decisions with our money, like reducing league fees, scheduling games as close as possible to Kansas City to reduce travel costs. We also work hard to be a good community member and build mutually beneficial relationships.
Tell us about your son, what kind of sports is he involved in?
He grew up playing many sports, but today he’s focused on baseball. He’s with the Colorado Rockies Double A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Dogs.
How did your role as a mother, coach, athlete and advocate factor into your son’s athletic pursuits?
Seeing me in those roles provided focus and validation for him in his sports career. Sports are valued in or family and provided a wholesome, family activity for us. He supported the Storm as a ball boy and then later as an announcer. He definitely has an appreciation for all the behind-the-scenes and off-field work that is required in sports and I think it helps him keep his perspective that many people contribute to the success of s team – not just the athletes.
What message would you like to send to your son and to everybody out there for Mother’s Day?
Take time out today to appreciate all the special women in your lives and most important, let them know. Everyone loves to hear that they’ve made a difference to someone special to them. Don’t be selfish with your words!